How Obama’s Clean Power Plan actually works — a step-by-step guide

August 5, 2015 – by Brad Plumer at VOX

The End of the Earth

It’s easy enough to describe the basics of the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s sweeping new policy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. Heck, we can do it in a single paragraph.

The EPA is giving each state an individual goal for cutting power plant emissions. States can then decide for themselves how to get there. They can switch from coal to natural gas, expand renewables or nuclear, boost energy efficiency, enact carbon pricing … it’s up to them. States just have to submit their plans by 2016-2018, start cutting by 2022 at the latest, and then keep cutting through 2030. Oh, and if states refuse to submit a plan, the EPA will impose its own federal plan, which could involve some sort of cap-and-trade program. Done.

When the dust settles, EPA expects US power plant emissions will be 32 percent lower in 2030 than they were in 2005. A significant cut, though still just a tiny piece of what’s needed to halt global warming.

So then why does the rule need to be 1,560 pages long? Because that synopsis above still leaves tons of questions unanswered. How did the EPA actually come up with each state’s emissions target? Why does every state have a different target? What, exactly, can states do to cut emissions? What if they want to work together? If states refuse, what sort of federal plan gets handed down from on high?

The Clean Power Plan does not include industrial boilers like this one at Alcoa in Warrick County, IN. Those were dealt with in a previous rule making. © 2010 BlairPhotoEVV

The Clean Power Plan does not include industrial boilers like this one at Alcoa in Warrick County, IN. Those were dealt with in a previous rule making. © 2010 BlairPhotoEVV

This fine print will matter a lot. So, for those curious about how the rule actually works, here’s a more detailed step-by-step guide to what EPA is doing:

1) The EPA is setting individual emissions goals for 47 states

This is a key starting point. There isn’t a single nationwide policy here. Instead, the EPA is setting different targets for 47 states — that is, 47 separate state goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030.

Why just 47 states? Vermont and Washington, DC, are exempt because they don’t have any large fossil fuel or electric power plants, so there’s nothing to cut. Meanwhile, Alaska and Hawaii aren’t covered under the rule for now because the EPA is still mulling how to deal with their unique grid situations. The agency says they’ll get regulated eventually.

2) State emissions goals are set by a complicated formula

So how did the EPA actually set each state’s target? This part is a tad more complex, and it’s completely different from how the agency calculated state goals in last year’s draft proposal of the Clean Power Plan. I’ll walk through the broad steps involved:

— First, take stock of the nation’s fossil-fuel power plants. The EPA started by tallying up all the coal, oil, and natural gas power plants across the United States, placed them into two broad categories, and then figured out their average emission rates in 2012 in each of the country’s three main electric-grid regions.


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EPA Releases Clean Power Plan

August 3, 2015 – President Obama and USEPA. Editor’s note: Due to a surgical recovery period, Valley Watch is allowing EPA and the President to speak for themselves about the Clean Power Plan. It should be noted that already, Indiana Governor, Mike Pence has announced his intention to ignore this important rule and proposes to continue the state’s reliance on old dirty coal plants instead.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 9.47.21 AM

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IDEM Commissioner, Tom Easterly, the ultimate friend of polluters announces his retirement

July 17, 2015 – by John Blair, editor

Good Riddance, Tom EasterlyEasterly

Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Tom Easterly announced his retirement on July 16. He will leave the office August 28. 

Easterly became known as a central global warming denier in the last few years as he shared his vision of using a State environmental agency as an economic development tool. He was also known for a pile of hazardous waste he authorized next to Lake Michigan as a consultant for ArcelorMittal Steel Corp prior to being appointed by Mitch Daniels in early 2005 to the Commissioner’s post.

It Doesn't Even MatterAs soon as he was appointed Commissioner, Easterly met with Indiana legislators to tell them the direction of the agency had changed from primarily environmental protection to an economic development agency, according to legislators he met with.

A bit later Easterly decided that enforcement of environmental rules was not important in Indiana and shut down the Agency’s Enforcement and Compliance section. From that point on, nearly every enforcement action against Indiana polluters was initiated by the USEPA and not IDEM.

In his latter years, Easterly became know for his adamant opposition to any effort to curb climate change and warming, offering advice to power plants and others on what they might do to avoid compliance with EPA rules. His current boss, Mike Pence, listened closely and adopted Easterly’s narrow views as his own, announcing recently that Indiana would not comply with the Federal Clean Power Plan.

Rejoicing at Easterly’s departure from the agency he managed is probably premature, however since it is almost a certainty that pence will appoint someone to the post wh shares his view of lax or no enforcement. Stay tuned.


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State ignores horrendous statewide air pollution event on Independence Day

July8, 2015 – by John Blair, editor.

Update: Further research has shown that the Beacon Street monitor in Ft. Wayne had a 24 hour average on Sunday, July 5 of a huge 84.75 µg/m3 with a high of 405.53 µg/m3. Editor’s Note: How can a state agency whose purpose is the protection of health for Hoosiers so blithely disregard these phenomenal levels of pollution? It almost defies reason and logic.

air pollution alert
July 4th is a day set aside for celebration, a national holiday in the midst of summer, a time for reflection on our freedoms. It is also a time when fireworks light up the evening sky both as community celebrations and, in fireworks crazy Indiana, a time for every man, woman and child to have their very own displays in their own backyards.

Yes, it is also a time when kids get their fingers blown off and this year one stupid man decided to set off a mortar shell from a perch on top of his head and blew up his head when the shell was launched. But explosive safety aside, fireworks also present a conundrum when it comes to environmental health.

This year that conundrum got pretty out of hand in Indiana. Monitors across the state (few as they are in number) recorded high to extremely high levels of fine particles from the evening of July 3 to the end of July 5.

It Doesn't Even MatterIt is the job of the Indiana Department of Environment Management to issue air pollution “alerts” when levels of so called criteria pollutants reach levels that are considered “unhealthy” for both “sensitive” populations as well as the public at large. But this year, IDEM and most local agencies that are suppose to protect citizen health completely dropped the ball and ignored the extremely high levels of fine particles that permeated Hoosier air for nearly three days.

Keith Bauges, head of IDEM's Office of Air Quality is not only a Global Warming "denier" but feels that alerts should be issued only after the fact.

Keith Bauges, head of IDEM’s Office of Air Quality is not only a Global Warming “denier” but feels that alerts should be issued only after the fact.

US EPA, after dealing with politics and a hostile congress set the level of pollution that is considered unsafe at 35µg/m3 as a 24 hour average. That was a “compromise” standard set by the administration of George W. Bush although it is clear science that levels lower than that can impact human health especially for people who suffer from a wide array of respiratory disease.

In other words, when the level reaches 35µg/m3 air quality is not good and breathing it could be harmful to some people’s health. As it goes higher, more people are impacted in an linear progression.

This past weekend, levels recorded at one monitor on the west side of Indianapolis called the “West 18th Street Monitor” fine particles rose to a whopping 280 µg/m3 at 1 AM on July 5 and remained high throughout the day and evening averaging 75.15µg/m3, twice the 24 hour standard. A day before, on July 4, fine particles averaged 44.35µg/m3 also well above the standard, topping out at 256.47 µg/m3. Continue reading

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In Perspective: EPA responds to the Supreme Court’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule Decision

EPAJune 30, 2015 – by Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Air and Radiation, USEPA. Editor’s note: Ms. McCabe was a member of Valley Watch prior to accepting her position with USEPA but after her stint as IDEM’s Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Air Quality.

UnknownThe Supreme Court’s decision on EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) was disappointing to everyone working to protect public health by reducing emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  But as we take stock of what this decision means, there are some important factors that make me confident we are still on track to reduce this dangerous pollution and better protect America’s children, families and communities.

Most notably – the Administration remains committed to finalizing the Clean Power Plan this summer and yesterday’s ruling will have no bearing on the effort to reduce carbon pollution from the largest sources of emissions.

Second – this decision is very narrow.  It did not invalidate the rule, which remains in effect today.  In fact, the majority of power plants are already in compliance or well on their way to compliance.  The Court found that EPA should have considered costs at an earlier step in the rulemaking process than it did.  The court did not question EPA’s authority to control toxic air pollution from power plants provided it considers cost in that step.  It also did not question our conclusions on human health that supported the agency’s finding that regulation is needed.  And its narrow ruling does not disturb the remainder of the D.C. Circuit decision which unanimously upheld all other aspects of the MATS rule and rejected numerous challenges to the standards themselves.

Third – this decision does not affect other Clean Air Act programs that address other sources and types of air pollution. It hinged on a very specific section of the Act that applies exclusively to the regulation of air toxics from power plants.  This is important to understand because it means that rules and programs that reduce other types of pollutants under other sections of the Clean Air Act—like ozone and fine particles (smog and soot) can continue without interruption or delay.

The decision does not affect the Clean Power Plan, which EPA will be finalizing later this summer and which will chart the course for this country to reduce harmful carbon from its fleet of existing power plants.   That’s worth repeating: The Court’s conclusion that EPA must consider cost when determining whether it is “appropriate” to regulate toxic air emissions from utilities under section 112 of the Act will not impact the development of the Clean Power Plan under section 111.  Cost is among the factors the Agency has long explicitly considered in setting standards under section 111 of the Act.

Fourth – America’s power sector is getting cleaner year after year by investing in more modern technologies.   Since President Obama took office, wind energy has tripled and solar has grown ten-fold. The Clean Power Plan will build on these current positive trends.  That means cleaner air in communities across the country, as well as a boost to our economy as we build the clean energy system of the future.

Finally – What’s next for MATS?   From the moment we learned of this decision, we were committed to ensuring that standards remain in place to protect the public from toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired electric utilities.  We will continue to work to make that happen.  There are questions that will need to be answered over the next several weeks and months as we review the decision and determine the appropriate next steps once that review is complete.  But as I’ve already noted, MATS is still in place and many plants have already installed controls and technologies to reduce their mercury emissions.

After nearly 45 years of the implementing the Clean Air Act, there have been many more victories than defeats as we’ve worked together to clean the air and raise healthier children and families.  Despite the Supreme Court’s MATS decision, the agency remains confident that the progress we’ve made so far in improving air quality and protecting public health will continue.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone’s rights or obligations. 

Please share this post. However, please don’t change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don’t attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

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10 key excerpts from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment-Washington Post

June 18, 2015 – by Sarah Pullman Bailey in the Washington Post. Editor’s note: Valley Watch, Inc. and are 100% secular and we endorse no particular religion over another. You may download the Encyclical in full at the bottom of this story.SNN1604P--620_1728824a

Pope Francis is calling for an “ecological conversion” for the faithful in his sweeping new encyclical on the environment. In “Laudato Si,” or “Be Praised” (or “Praised Be,”) he warns of harming birds and industrial waste and calls for renewable fuel subsidies and energy efficiency.

Here are some of the key passages people will read closely, everything from climate change and global warming to abortion and population control.

1) Climate change has grave implications. “Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever,” he writes.

2) Rich countries are destroying poor ones, and the earth is getting warmer. “The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming.”

3) Christians have misinterpreted Scripture and “must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.”

4) The importance of access to safe drinkable water is “a basic and universal human right.”

5) Technocratic domination leads to the destruction of nature and the exploitation of people, and “by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.”

6) Population control does not address the problems of the poor. “In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life.” And, “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion.”

7) Gender differences matter, and “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different.”

8) The international community has not acted enough: “recent World Summits on the environment have not lived up to expectations because, due to lack of political will, they were unable to reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements on the environment.” He writes, “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.” And, “there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago.”

9) Individuals must act. “An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness,” he writes. We should also consider taking public transit, car-pooling, planting trees, turning off the lights and recycling.

10) By the way, why are we here on Earth in the first place? “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” he writes.


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Papal Encyclical to come on 6/18 regarding climate and earth

June 16, 2015 – by Peter Sinclair and the Yale Climate Forum. Editor’s note: Valley Watch is a secular organization although some of our most active members are very active in their own faiths. We are, however, looking forward to Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on June 18, that will spell out for Catholics the very real problems with climate and pollution. 

Peter Sinclair, offers this provocative video  in advance of the encyclical to show the thinking of some theologians prior to the release. 

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Will Evansville and Vectren ever embrace renewable energy?

June 3, 1015 – by Jean Webb, Valley Watch board member

What’s holding Evansville back from taking advantage of the newer, cleaner, cheaper electric generating technologies? I’d answer Vectren, our state government, and ratepayer indifference.

imagesEvansville’s electricity is generated by 96% coal. Coal may be cheap, but the controls to clean up the air and water from its wastes are very expensive. Other cities are now able to thrive with affordable clean energy. Why not us?

Want an example? According to a January 2014 rate survey, the Portland, OR residential ratepayer paid $63.34 for a 500kWh bill; whereas the Evansville ratepayer paid $83.77 for that same 500kWh bill. Portland ratepayers can also chose to power their houses with renewable energy, a mix of 98% wind, 1% geothermal, and 1% solar. The extra cost for the average household to go with renewables is approximately $7.00 a month. I would love that option! I could be 100% renewable in Portland and still pay less than what I pay Vectren!

Vectren doeshave a "power purchase agreement with the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Benton County, IN to supply a few megawatts of energy to the Vectren System. They do charge a premium to customers who desire to be 100% renewable.That is on top of what is already the highest electric rates in the midwest. Photo © 2015 BlairPhotoEVV

Vectren does have a “power purchase agreement” with the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in White and Benton Counties and Benton County Wind Farm in Benton County, IN to supply 80 megawatts of energy to the Vectren System. . Photo © 2015 BlairPhotoEVV

Vectren’s stance is that they don’t need new capacity, so they aren’t adding renewables. And, since they are still entitled to recovery on the coal plants and all their related pollution controls, the ratepayers would have to pay for both the old and new generating units. Ouch! Why do we have to keep paying for what we don’t want?

That’s where our State government comes into play. Utility lobbyists managed to hi-jack our state into passing Senate Bill 251 in April 2011. That Bill allowed utilities to keep upgrading the old coal plants and keep charging ratepayers for the upgrades without any rate hearing to allow customers to comment. That Bill is why we are still in debt for old technology that prevents us from moving ahead into the future. It’s the ratepayer equivalent of massive student loans that can never be discharged in bankruptcy.

So, Vectren is sitting smug, knowing they will be paid for a product we don’t want. And, they helplessly say – sorry, renewables are just too expensive.

Let’s let Vectren know LOUDLY that their lobbyists may be clever, but we want clean renewables NOW. We want them at an affordable price.   We want them to STOP spending on old technologies and passing that cost onto us.

If you agree, please share this post on your Facebook page.

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EPA Finalizes new Clean Water Rule

May 27, 2015 – by the Office of Environmental Justice, USEPA

WaterIn an historic step for the protection of clean water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army finalized the Clean Water Rule today to clearly protect from pollution and degredation the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. 

The rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined and predictably determined, making permitting less costly, easier, and faster for businesses and industry. The rule is grounded in law and the latest science, and is shaped by public input. The rule does not create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions. EPA

People need clean water for their health: About 117 million Americans – one in three people – get drinking water from streams that lacked clear protection before the Clean Water Rule. America’s cherished way of life depends on clean water, as healthy ecosystems provide wildlife habitat and places to fish, paddle, surf, and swim. Clean and reliable water is an economic driver, including for manufacturing, farming, tourism, recreation, and energy production. The health of our rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters are impacted by the streams and wetlands where they begin.

Protection for many of the nation’s streams and wetlands has been confusing, complex, and time-consuming as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. EPA and the Army are taking this action today to provide clarity on protections under the Clean Water Act after receiving requests for over a decade from members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, scientists, and the public for a rulemaking.

In developing the rule, the agencies held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country, reviewed over one million public comments, and listened carefully to perspectives from all sides. EPA and the Army also utilized the latest science, including a report summarizing more than 1,200 peer-reviewed, published scientific studies which showed that small streams and wetlands play an integral role in the health of larger downstream water bodies.

A Clean Water Act permit is only needed if a water is going to be polluted or destroyed. The Clean Water Rule only protects the types of waters that have historically been covered under the Clean Water Act. It does not regulate most ditches and does not regulate groundwater, shallow subsurface flows, or tile drains. It does not make changes to current policies on irrigation or water transfers or apply to erosion in a field. The Clean Water Rule addresses the pollution and destruction of waterways – not land use or private property rights. 

The rule protects clean water necessary for farming, ranching, and forestry and provides greater clarity and certainty to farmers about coverage of the Clean Water Act. Farms across America depend on clean and reliable water for livestock, crops, and irrigation. The final rule specifically recognizes the vital role that U.S. agriculture serves in providing food, fuel, and fiber at home and around the world. The rule does not create any new permitting requirements for America’s farmers. Activities like planting, harvesting, and moving livestock have long been exempt from Clean Water Act regulation, and the Clean Water Rule preserves those exemptions. 

The Clean Water Rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

More information:

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Dennis Gage questions legislature’s “war on Rooftop Solar”

May 16, 2015 – by Dennis Gage in the Fauxton Report

The forces of darkness (aka investor-owned Utilities) have been plotting a coordinated nation-wide assault on rooftop solar since 2012. Battles have already been waged in a number of state legislatures with the Utilities winning (and consumers losing!) all too many of them. Those wins were all secured with the help of special interest money.

One such battle took place in Indiana in 2015, with the first round being won by consumers due to strong grassroots opposition to a blatantly sweetheart deal for the Utilities. However, this “win” was by a decision, at best, and the Utilities ARE bound to come out swinging in the next round in 2016.

The mission of The Fauxton Report is to shed light on the Utilities’ war on rooftop solar and on the scourge of special interest money in our political system. Tune in to The Fauxton Report frequently for further episodes and updates.

Power to the People!

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Tremendous victory for CAC and the State


May 8, 2015 – Press Release from Citizens Action Coalition

For immediate release – May 8, 2015
Kerwin Olson
Jennifer Washburn

INDIANAPOLIS – Today the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission denied Duke Energy Indiana’s request for nearly $1.9B from captive ratepayers.  In their final order, the IURC cited a lack of evidence as well as insufficient cost estimates to justify the expenditures.  The IURC also noted the ineligibility of many projects under the controversial Transmission Distribution and Storage Improvement Charge (TDSIC) statute, such as a $1.5 million customer contact software system, a $3 million “energy learning center,” and $48.5 million in vegetation management, more commonly referred to as tree-trimming.  Similarly, the IURC also denied Indiana Michigan (I&M) Power Company’s $787 million TDSIC plan today.

The TDSIC statute was the result of Senate Enrolled Act 560 which passed the Indiana General Assembly in 2013.  The legislation was written and supported by the Indiana Energy Association, the monopoly utilities’ trade association.  CAC has advocated for the repeal of SEA 560, which shifts the risk from utility investors to the ratepayers and puts onerous timelines on the IURC to act within 300 days or else the utilities are allowed to “self-implement” rate increases.

Duke’s proposal included a $177 million request to install expensive, invasive, and unnecessary smart meters in every home and business in their Indiana service territory.  They also requested to continue to earn a return on the investment for the old meters they were going to remove while simultaneously recovering the costs (plus a rate of return) of the new smart meters.

Kerwin Olson, Executive Director at CAC, stated “I’ve seen more detail in most elementary students’ math homework.  Duke thought they could cram through this expensive, unnecessary plan after they paid for the passage of this dangerous legislation.  The denial of both the Duke and the I&M filings under the law clearly displays that SEA 560 is a horrific piece of public policy that should be repealed by the Indiana General Assembly as soon as possible.”

“The IURC showed true leadership today. CAC praises the IURC for its courageous action and we highly commend the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and our industry allies for their leadership and collaboration in this case.”


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Indiana and Kentucky near the bottom of “Eco Friendly States”

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMay 6, 2015 – by John S. Kieran on

Eco-friendliness and personal finance are essentially cousins. Not only are our environmental and financial necessities aligned – providing ourselves with sustainable clean drinking water and nutritious sustenance, for example – but we also spend money on both the household and government levels in support of environmental security.

Then there’s climate change. We’ve already seen a rise in powerful land-bearing storm systems and extreme droughts, with New York and New Jersey recently spending $71.4 billion to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy. But that’s just the beginning, as storm surges and other bad weather are expected to cause more than $500 billion in property damage by the year 2100. Climate change will also have a direct impact on our military-industrial complex, as nearly all of our East Coast air and naval installations are vulnerable to sea-level rise.

In the meantime, we can all try to do our part to save the world for our kids, grandkids and future generations. In order to help highlight this important issue as well as all states taking steps to care for the environment and call out those doing a poor job, WalletHub compared each of the 50 states in terms of 14 key metrics designed to illustrate each place’s environmental quality and the eco-friendliness of its policies.

Overall Rank


Environmental Quality Rank

Eco-Friendly Behaviors Rank

1 Vermont 1 2
2 Oregon 8 1
3 New York 7 6
4 Minnesota 4 8
5 Massachusetts 10 4
6 Washington 9 7
7 New Hampshire 5 10
8 Rhode Island 3 16
9 Connecticut 6 15
10 Hawaii 18 5
11 South Dakota 2 30
12 Maine 22 9
13 Maryland 20 14
14 Pennsylvania 24 13
15 California 46 3
16 New Jersey 26 11
17 Wisconsin 17 22
18 Arizona 21 18
19 Michigan 11 31
20 Nevada 29 17
21 Colorado 44 12
22 North Carolina 26 21
23 Florida 34 19
24 New Mexico 35 20
25 Virginia 31 25
26 Georgia 26 27
27 Illinois 38 23
28 South Carolina 13 40
29 Kansas 16 34
30 Alaska 11 35
31 Idaho 39 24
32 Utah 18 32
33 Iowa 36 28
34 Montana 41 26
35 Missouri 15 43
36 Ohio 39 29
37 Tennessee 29 38
38 North Dakota 31 39
39 Nebraska 33 41
40 Mississippi 14 49
41 Wyoming 23 44
42 Oklahoma 25 48
43 Delaware 45 33
44 Arkansas 48 36
45 West Virginia 37 45
46 Alabama 42 46
47 Indiana 43 47
48 Kentucky 49 42
49 Texas 50 37
50 Louisiana 47 50

Continue reading

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Edwardsport “performance” substantially misses Duke’s promises

April 13, 2015 – by John Blair, editor

“Fiasco” is really the only way to describe the whole situation with Duke Energy’s ill fated coal gasification plant at Edwardsport, IN.Dupe-Energy-Logo-dirty

First the plant was promised to cost $1.2 billion and be “carbon capture” ready Duke executives travelled the state and nation gathering political support for their project in 2004. Today, that price tag has  grown to more than $4 billion and the size of the plant was actually reduced but does not have carbon capture at all. Duke’s Indiana ratepayers are on the hook for nearly $3+ billion.

Carbon capture, according to the Department of Energy and others, adds about 50% to the overall capital cost of a gasifier and has a “parasitic energy use” of 25-40% when it is operated. 

But not only has Duke been horribly wrong on their projections of cost, they have failed completely in their desire to have the plant fully operational, having claimed it “in service” nearly two years ago when they began charging their customers hefty fees to pay for the plant and its operation. The chart below shows their failure graphically for the period June, 2013 to January, 2015. The bottom line is that Duke’s customers have continued to get screwed paying excessive rates for an plant that does not work as planned even close to two years after they said it would be fully operational.

It should be noted that Valley Watch, together with Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition and Save the Valley have fought this plant, using the arguments that have sadly come to pass, since its inception. Edwardsport Monthly CF thru January 2015

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Cronkite reported on climate change in 1980

April 5, 2015 – by John Blair, editor

Thirty-five years ago, the “most trusted man in America,” Walter Cronkite ran a story on his nightly newscast regarding global warming and climate change. Since then hundreds pf scientific studies have been done confirming a warming planet and sometimes dire predictions of the future. Today, the heads of Congress’s environmental committees are climate deniers who are seeking to relegate the nation one the Earth to what could be significant horrors of disastrous weather events and environmental dislocation. Sadly, the world seems so addicted to fossil fuels that any sort of fix for this imminent problem remains elusive. 

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Hermann, Mo., Mayor: ‘Nobody With an IQ Above Their Shoe Size’ Believes Prairie State Is Viable

April 1, 2015 – by Editor’s note: Valley Watch spent the greater part of two years in the middle of the last decade trying to inform various municipal electric utilities throughout the midwest that they would end up in trouble if they bought into the nefarious Prairie State Generating Station. Unfortunately, for reasons mainly connected to a combination of greed and naivete, they refused to listen, opting instead to place their economic futures in the hands of Peabody Energy and the head of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency who were promoting the plant as a means to get supposed cheap energy. Had they listened and acted on what Valley Watch was telling them, they would not have found themselves in the dire straits we predicted a decade ago.

Prairies State Generating Station was originally said to cost a mere $1.5 billion and the munis who bought into it were told their energy would cost only $35/mWh. The plant ended up costing more than triple the original projections and the electricity followed suit. Photo© 2012 BlairPhotoEVV

Prairies State Generating Station was originally said to cost a mere $1.5 billion and the munis who bought into it were told their energy would cost only $35/mWh. The plant ended up costing more than triple the original projections and the electricity followed suit. Photo© 2012 BlairPhotoEVV

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch picks up the latest Prairie State Energy Campus story in an overnight piece distributed nationally via McClatchy News Service.

The article, by Jacob Barker, describes the lawsuit filed earlier this month by the town of Hermann, Mo., which is seeking to end its ties to the overpriced, underperforming coal-fired plant. Parker notes also that “Peabody and the other backers” still argue that Prairie State will one day produce reliable, affordable electricity, a stance Hermann Mayor Tom Shabel says in the Post-Dispatch article is not credible: “I don’t believe that anybody with an IQ above their shoe size believes that for a New York minute.”

Barker notes that Hermann “isn’t the first to complain of electricity prices that turned out to be much higher than what was pitched.” Batavia, Ill, has sued Indiana’s public power agency and Marceline, Mo., was able to get out of its contract in 2013 after threatening legal action.


  • “‘We tried to negotiate with them,’Shabel said. ‘It was destroying the city, this relationship. We’ve lost close to $1 million in the last year. … The only way you can negotiate with MoPEP or MJMEUC is to have some sort of club over their head.’”
  • “Originally pitched by St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, the coal company has since reduced its stake in the power plant and adjacent mine complex to 5 percent. The rest is owned by public power agencies, including those in Missouri and Illinois, whose members are on the hook for power purchases.”
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